Of all the presidential contenders, Jesse Jackson has stirred up the most controversy.
This has produced some misconceptions about his candidacy. What does he really stand for? What will he do with the power he is gaining?A group of University of Utah professors prepared an exhaustive questionnaire for the Voters Caucus, a non-partisan voter education group.
The questionnaire was designed to cut through the campaign rhetoric and get to the heart of a candidate's philosophy. Jackson's frank responses, reported here for the first time, reveal a consistent, deep-rooted philosophy.
Clearly, he sees himself as a champion of the downtrodden and the deprived, as a moral leader crying out against human and economic exploitation.
He would like to turn the power structure upside down, giving more power to the powerless and more wealth to the impoverished. He supports the Third World struggle against colonialism and exploitation.
Jackson believes he can achieve his goals by working within the American political system. A determined, organized minority, he believes, can extract concessions from an apathetic majority.
Jackson's strategy, apparently, is to apply his new political clout to get the government to collect more taxes from those on the top and distribute the benefits to those on the bottom of the economic scale.
On the questionnaire, he took the most extreme position among the presidential candidates in favor of higher taxes to finance "educational programs to better train the nation's youth, welfare programs to provide for the needy, health care programs to care for the sick, etc."
Jackson wrote that he also believes fiercely that "the government should try to make the benefits of our society available to all its people on an equal basis so that everyone is assured of a reasonable standard of living, and we should raise taxes as necessary to achieve this goal."
Jackson "definitely opposes" efforts to set "mandatory targets for federal spending reductions." He is also against a balanced budget amendment and believes the country should be "allowed to go into debt to meet the real needs of our people.
The way to hold down the deficit, he strongly feels, is to "cut defense spending only." He wants to reduce nuclear arms, stop underground nuclear testing and limit all military weaponry positions that he marked as "extremely important."
He also took an extreme position against the Strategic Defense Initiative, declaring that "we cannot afford this research, and Congress should stop funding it."
It is also Jackson's "extremely important" view that "U.S. action and intervention in the affairs of recognized Third World regimes is both illegal and immoral."
He feels strongly that "the U.S. should recognize the legitimate rights of Palestinian people to have some type of independent nation of their own. Israel must be pressured to recognize that the Palestinian Arabs need to be independent."
Jackson strongly opposes mandatory AIDS testing and favors as "extremely important" a comprehensive national health-care policy for all citizens.
He believes that states "definitely should not" require jobless workers "to work at public service or non-profit jobs" in return for their unemployment checks. His view is that "social welfare programs are a necessary federal responsibility."
He also takes a strong position in favor of "regulations for protecting persons and relocating tenants who have been put out of their homes by owners wishing to convert their properties."
And he believes it is "extremely important" to increase funding for federal housing programs and federal urban renewal.
Footnote: The Voters Caucus is a non-partisan, non-profit, all-volunteer voter education organization founded by the International Platform Association.